Germany dumps Verizon for government work over NSA fears

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The German government is ditching Verizon as its network infrastructure provider, and it’s citing Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance as a reason.

The aftermath of the Snowden leaks has seen China institute heavy vetting of U.S. equipment and Brazil cancel big orders of U.S. military kit. However, despite the fact that the bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel provided a major diplomatic upset, until now Germany’s response has been more bark than bite.

No longer. In a statement on Thursday, the German ministry of the interior said it would let its existing contract with Verizon expire as it tries to provide “an infrastructure with an increased level of security.” Verizon currently manages Germany’s federal administrative infrastructure, through a contract that will run out in 2015.

The statement cited the increasing prevalence of malware and other hacking threats, and it also explicitly called out the links – exposed by “the NSA affair” – between foreign intelligence agencies and private firms. It said it wanted one company to manage all its government networks (as Deutsche Telekom runs one of the others, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’ll be the lucky ones to get the lot).

Verizon, or “Dacron” as it was apparently codenamed by British spy agency GCHQ, appears to be a shining example of spy-telco interfacing. Like others including BT and Level 3, leaks have shown Verizon works with GCHQ to help the agency tap the internet’s backbone, in order to conduct mass surveillance.

“There are indications that Verizon is legally required to provide certain things to the NSA, and that’s one of the reasons the cooperation with Verizon won’t continue,” an interior ministry spokesman told AP.

Of course, German spies are also very active online, but that’s not a worry for the German administration.

This article was updated on 27 June to include the interior ministry spokesman’s quote.

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